Vice Adm. Ouk Seyha, left, and Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander of Task Force 73, pass an honor guard Nov. 16 while arriving for events kicking off exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Cambodia 2015. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Micah P. Blechner)

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia - The U.S. Navy and Royal Cambodian Navy commenced the 6th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Cambodia exercise Nov. 16, with an opening ceremony held at the Royal Cambodian Ream Navy Base.

In its sixth consecutive year, the bilateral CARAT Cambodia exercise continues to be a tangible venue for increasing maritime security cooperation with the Royal Cambodian Navy.

“CARAT enables us to develop strong relationships with our Cambodian Navy partners,” said Rear Adm. Charlie Williams, Commander, Task Force 73. “Through persistent presence and relationships, we continue to make steady progress in increasing the complexity of our training and enhancing cooperation between our navies.”

CARAT Cambodia will include five days of events in port and at sea concluding on Nov 20. Ashore, personnel will conduct hands-on training in damage control, navigation, tactical combat casualty care (TCCC), force protection and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) techniques. Symposia will bring together professionals from both navies to discuss best practices in military law, military medicine and aviation search and rescue. The U.S. 7th Fleet band will also perform during community relations engagements around Sihanoukville.

At sea, the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), with Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 staff and an MH-60R helicopter embarked, will train with a flotilla consisting of two RCN Stenka-class patrol boats (Stenka 1134 and 1141) and one coastal patrol vessel (PC 1108). In addition to maneuvering and surface gunnery drills, highlights include maritime boarding scenarios and a search and rescue exercise.

"We're looking forward to getting underway during the sea-phase of CARAT with our partners in the Royal Cambodian Navy" said Capt. H. B. Le, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. "This year USS Fort Worth will participate in CARAT Cambodia for the first time, presenting a unique opportunity for us to train hull-to-hull with the RCN on one of the navy's newest and most agile ships."

Approximately 200 U.S. Sailors and 300 Royal Cambodian sailors are participating in CARAT Cambodia 2015. In addition to Fort Worth, the rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) is also taking part. Other participants include divers from a Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit, a Coastal Riverine detachment, U.S. Navy Seabees and the U.S. 7th Fleet band.

CARAT is a series of annual, bilateral maritime exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor Leste.

Task Force 73 and DESRON 7 conduct advanced planning, organize resources and directly support the execution of maritime exercises such as the bilateral Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training series, the Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) with Vietnam, and the multilateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

In this file photo, U.S. Navy Sailor and Royal Cambodian Navy counterparts practice visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) techniques during CARAT Cambodia 2014. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Declan Barnes)